NASA has released the dramatic composite natural-color image of Figure 1 in which Saturn, its moons and rings, and Earth, Venus and Mars, all are visible. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. To take this image Cassini plunged onto the dark side of the planet, which enables the delicate ring structure to become fully revealled. Cassini’s imaging team, at the Jet propulsion Laboratory, processed 141 wide-angle images to create the panorama. The image sweeps 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across Saturn and its inner ring system, including all of Saturn’s rings out to the E ring, which is Saturn’s second outermost ring. For and interactive version where you can, for instance, click on the Earth visit the Cassini Webpage. It is the ultimate selfie.
We’ve spoken a lot in this blog about robotic eyes. Yet it is always remarkable to think of these remarkable digital cameras. They’re not that different than the digital cameras that we carry around. Still they are millions of miles away in space. Snapping images under remote control and beaming these back to us ever so slowly to conserve battery power. And as I’ve pointed out before they are not quite totally robotic. Someone decided that this would make a nice image and that the addition of ourselves in the picture would add to the appeal. I love it!